By Steve Gunn
CHICAGO – Teachers unions have not created a problem by insisting on permanent job protections for veteran teachers, according to National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel.
If there are bad teachers in public schools, it’s because administrators make bad decisions when they hire young teachers, Van Roekel told Mlive’s Dave Murray during a recent interview.
The topic of tenure and other job protections came up when Murray asked Van Roekel, “Is there still a need for tenure if there is a good evaluation system in place?”
Van Roekel responded by saying, “In America, according to the Department of Education, we lose 47 percent of the new teachers hired within five years. And our critics say it’s too hard to fire the ones who are left.
“What’s the solution to the problem? Not eliminating due process. The solution is to not let them in in the first place. The idea that you would let anyone in a room with 25 or 40 kids who is not adequately trained, certified and licensed is wrong.”
Just who does this guy think he’s fooling?
First of all, teaching is a challenging job, so it’s not surprising if there’s a high dropout rate within the first few years. Some people rightly decide that they are not up to the task and check out on their own. They should be saluted for doing the right thing for themselves and students.
But Van Roekel wants us to forget about basic human nature. Newer employees, including teachers, are typically full of energy and commitment in their first decade of work. But everyone needs an occasional kick in the butt, particularly as the years go by and boredom with the job sets in.
But with job protections like tenure, there is nothing to hold over teachers’ heads to force them to continue to apply themselves. They know they will have a job unless they commit some horrible offense, so many tend to relax and give less than their best effort.
That’s a very bad deal for students, parents and the taxpayers who fund the schools.
It’s not the fault of school administrators. It’s the fault of unions like the NEA who insist on creating unproductive comfort zones for veteran employees.
We’re not stupid, Mr. Van Roekel. Your union has demonstrated that it’s willing to protect all teachers, whether they become lazy over time or not. Americans have finally started accepting that ugly fact, and your effort to pass the blame for this shameful tradition are not going to be effective.